Prague - The Czech National Heritage Institute (NPU) has refused to hand over the Bouzov castle to a religious order within the church restitution, as it believes that the restitution law does not apply to Bouzov, Simona Jurackova, from the NPU, told CTK today.
Bouzov, a picturesque castle in central Moravia, was confiscated under the post-war Benes Decrees, i.e. before the 1948-1989 period of communism to which the law applies, the NPU said.
Under the decrees issued by then president Edvard Benes, ethnic Germans were stripped of property and citizenship, which enabled their transfer from Czechoslovakia after World War Two.
Bouzov has been claimed by the Czech branch of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, which is the Catholic German Order, the successor of Teutonic Knights.
The order also claimed the movable property in the castle, which the NPU also rejected.
Referring to documents, the NPU said the chateau cannot be returned because it is impossible to return property confiscated based on the presidential decree 12/1945 on the confiscation and prompt division of the agricultural property of Germans, Hungarians and traitors and enemies of the Czech and Slovak nations, and based on the presidential decree 108/1945 on the confiscation of the enemy´s property and on National renewal funds, the NPU wrote to explain its rejection of the restitution claim.
Apart from being confiscated under the Benes Decrees, the property in question had not been part of the claimant´s original property, nor did the claimant prove having used the property between February 25, 1948 and January 1, 1990 for spiritual or pastoral purposes, which is required by the law, the NPU wrote.
The NPU´s decision was not unexpected, as the order´s claim for the return of Bouzov and other property has been closely watched by the media and accompanied by a stormy debate.
The town of Bouzov would like the castle to remain in the ownership of the state, its representatives said.